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November 2011
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January 2012

Posts from December 2011

Clean Slate

She_let_go(courtesy of Gaping Void)

I am doing my best to start out 2012 with a clean slate. When I set aside time for it, the purging of belongings isn't hard.  It's the other stuff that's not so easy. Leaving unneccessary emotional baggage behind is a truly difficult task, but I'm trying, and luckily I have a strong support network to help. Here's to letting go . . .


Age and Wisdom

My family got this for me for Chanukah this year, knowing my general opinion about mornings. But I certainly don't feel that way today. Every year on my birthday I am first and foremost thankful to be alive and healthy, and even more thankful to have amazing friends and family on the journey alongside me. Another year older, and although sometimes I feel like I'm still waiting for the wisdom to fully kick in, I'm certainly enjoying the ride.

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Holidaze

Being on the other side of the world in a warm climate for the first two weeks of December has definitely had on impact on me regarding this year's holiday season. Yes, I know it's December 22nd, but it does not feel at all like Christmas to me; it doesn't even feel close. This, of course, has led to my scrambling around like a crazy person trying to get my typical holiday things done; tomorrow night is reserved for building staff tips and toffee-making. Not even sure I'll have time for the granola before Christmas day with my family.

I've also given very little thought to what I'll be doing for my birthday (the day after Christmas) and New Year's Eve. I do know, however, that I'll be eating mac & cheese and watching The Big Lebowski on New Year's Day. That's a tradition not to be messed with.


R & R in Phang Nga Bay

We spent the last portion of our Thailand adventure on Naka Island, a five minute boat ride off of Phuket. After a flurry of activity in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, our primary goal switched to relaxation. This was fairly easy to accomplish, as we were staying in a lovely resort with our own villa and a private plunge pool (note to self: you should do this more often, wallet-permitting). Although the resort was our home base, we took a boat to the other side of the island for a tasty dinner at Tenta Nakara -- the spiciest meal we encountered the whole trip.  I think our whiteness generally led many Thai restaurateurs to tone down our food, sadly. 

The one day trip we planned was a sea canoeing excursion in and around Phang Nga Bay, where we got to explore hongs, or sea caves, only accessible during low tide.  The word I keep returning to when describing this trip is magical. First of all, the boat ride to our first anchor spot was incredibly scenic -- so beautiful that I could hardly believe it was real. The green sea was dotted with steep rock uninhabited islands. As we got closer, we anchored and set out in three-person sea canoes, and explored the interiors of these natural wonders. During the course of the day and evening we explored several caves and hongs, saw swooping brown-winged birds, an egret, crabs, fish that walked on land (mudskippers), fish that skimmed above the water, majestic stalagtites and stalagmites, and glittery phosphorescent tiny sea critters. We swam in the balmy waters at sunset with the moon rising above us, and were fed a simple but lovely banquet prepared entirely on our boat. All in all, a magnificent day.

After that, it was back to R & R, although I did squeeze in a little Muay Thai class before heading off to the spa for a body scrub. After sunset cocktails, we capped off our day with a gorgeous beachside dinner, complete with tiki torches, flowers and champagne. 

The trip home was long, but I was able to sneak in a bowl of miso ramen at the Tokyo airport this time through.  I promise pictures of the trip will be up shortly.


A Taste of Chiang Mai

It's our last night in Chiang Mai, our next stop after Bangkok. It's much busier than I expected, but it's still a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Our first day here we spent the day cooking and eating at the Thai Farm Cooking School. We started with a visit to Ruamchook Market -- I could have stayed here for hours gazing at (and tasting) the culinary offerings. Turns out the folks in Chiang Mai are huge fans of pork rinds among other fried delights, and they're sold in sizes ranging from a small sack to a bag the size of a large pillowcase.  Next we were off to the farm for an orientation to Thai ingredients, many of which are grown on-site, and an all-day cooking lesson. Note to friends and family -- there will be some Thai dinners at my place in your future. If I can find all the ingredients, I"ll even make my own curry paste.  This day was a major highlight of my trip, not surprisingly.

Today we spent more time in the countryside -- if I ever come back to this part of the world, I hope to spend much more time exploring the countryside, including hikes in the mountains and perhaps some cycling in some of the flatter regions. My favorite part of the day was a peaceful and relaxing ride down the Ping river on a bamboo raft, with a stunning mountain view in the distance.  And now, we're off to seek out some khao soi for dinner -- the local specialty.  Tomorrow we'll be heading to Doi Suthep before flying to Phuket and traveling to our final destination, an island called Koh Naka Yai. 

It's looking more and more like you'll have to wait for the pictures. Don't worry -- they're worth it!


A Bit of Bangkok

I hardly know where to begin in describing Bangkok. It's a bustling and vibrant urban center, a mix of old and new, with the dirty, gritty and run-down squeezed in next to the luxe and modern. In three days I have taken all forms of public transportation: the SkyTrain, the subway, and the public ferry, I have argued with a taxi driver about using the meter (common attempt to scam tourists), I survived a crazy tuk-tuk ride, coming within inches of a pack of scooters while making a turn, and have improved my street-crossing skills (no small feat). I have had coffee in the luxurious Erawan Tea Room, eaten street food for breakfast, had lunch at Chote Chitr, noted in my book of 500 best food destinations in the world, was given a personal tour of Chinatown, tasting along the way, and sipped cocktails 50 floors above the street overlooking Bangkok at night. I've seen temples and buddhas, some beautiful, some over-the-top gaudy. I've visited the impressive Grand Palace and the elegant teak Jim Thompson House.  I've got one more dinner here and about three different places that have been recommended to me by people whose culinary tastes I trust -- may have to squeeze one more in on my way back through at the end of next week.

I'm having some technical issues getting my photos up as quickly as I'd like, so you'll just have to wait, I'm afraid.  There's so much to take in that I feel like my pictures can hardly do it justice. I truly adore it here so far. Next stop is Chiang Mai, which will be quite different, or so I'm told. Looking forward to it!